Sex has always sold, but recently it seems that it sells more than ever! Any subject that creates a little controversy is going to live the longest in headlines, and sex has caused controversy since the beginning of time. With the recent global impact of erotic fiction aimed at women, though, sex has taken on some new and exciting layers. Finally, we hear women talking about confidence (both personally and sexually) and being just a bit more choosy about what they expect from their partners. It's an exciting time, indeed.
I had the extraordinary privilege of speaking to Opal Carew, bestselling erotic and romance author, about erotic fiction, modern women, and healing stones. Read below to catch the whole interview!
*Sex seems to be having its day in America right now, but it’s not like it’s actually a new thing. Anyone with access to the internet and even a passing interest in a movie or band fandom knows there’s been some surprisingly high-quality fan fictions out there for a long time, delighting readers. And a lot of those are pretty explicit in nature. In 2014, however, the stories written on livejournal accounts, tumblr pages and fanfiction.net have finally broken out into the open and are living on the printed page in bookstores everywhere. And all of this, arguably, began with 50 Shades of Grey. What first brought YOU to reading and writing erotic fiction?
I have always liked pushing boundaries. When I first started writing, the hottest thing out there in romance fiction was Harlequin’s Temptation line, then later Blaze. Even then, my writing was too hot for those lines. I wasn’t trying to write erotic, just show the intimacy between a couple falling in love.
A couple years later, I heard about Black Lace, a line of erotic fiction for women. That was exciting, but when I read the books I found that they didn’t have the romance element, which is fine, but I wanted romance in the books I read, and wrote. I was happy to see these books pushing the boundaries though. (Note, this was about twenty years ago now.)
I didn’t really start writing erotic romance until I was published with New Concepts Publishing. I sent them some of the books that had been turned down by Harlequin and my editor at NCP asked me to make them even hotter! Yay! I was then able to pull out the stops and go!
My big break, though, was when I wrote a romance novel with an erotic theme, called Twin Fantasies, rather than just a romance with explicit sex scenes. St. Martin’s Press was just starting to look for erotic romance and my agent found me in her slush pile and sold my book to them within a week of signing me!
*You hear celebrities from Hilary Duff to Victoria Beckham to Kate Hudson talking about reading these books, with as much excitement and enthusiasm as the rest of us. These are ladies we generally think of as having exciting lives, already. Would you say that erotic fiction has been a great leveling field for women everywhere, and if so, why?
Sure. No matter what your real life is like, you have fantasies. Living a glamorous life like they do doesn’t mean they have that perfect lover, or multiple lovers. And even if they do, a well written erotic book makes you feel the emotions and the excitement that the characters feel. With a book, you can have great sex anytime you want! ;)
*I’ve heard people say that erotic fiction has raised women’s expectations of the men in their lives. Would you say that’s true, and is that a good thing?
I’m not sure about that. Characters in fiction are bigger than life. Um… cough cough. I mean they have big personalities. Big issues. Big emotions. Big sexual expertise. Yeah, okay, and big… feet. :)
But seriously, I would hope that's true! And if it is, I think it's wonderful. I don't believe that women now expect their men to buy them islands - but if more women expect a deeper level of love and devotion, then that’s a very good thing. The heroes in my books care deeply for their women, and prove that regularly. While real men may not be able to go to the same lengths, they can make an effort to show their love to the women in their lives - and vice versa! That's what is really exciting about these books - the depth of love and desire the heroes and heroines possess. Couples who care for each other like the characters in my books are the healthiest, happiest couples I see. And that is something I can only hope people are aspiring to.
*What’s your greatest advice for women who are new to reading the genre but considering dipping their toes in?
Start with a sub-genre you already know you enjoy. One of the best things about erotic romance is there is something for everyone! There is historical romance that takes place on estates like Downton Abbey, science fiction novels about romance in space, on other planets, in other universes, paranormal romance for Twilight fans, mystery, contemporary - anything, really. So my best advice would be to go with the types of characters and stories you already know you want to read about.
I would like to say myself but I don't want to shamelessly plug myself that hard haha. But if you like contemporary romance, billionaires, bikers, or just plain super sexy men… J
Dive right in and have an open mind. If it is your first erotic fiction book you need to let yourself be taken by the story and environment... and by the Alpha Hero!
*What do you do in your own life to boost your confidence on days when you’re feeling a little low?
Talk to my husband. He is always so totally encouraging. Also, my sons and my friends. If they aren’t available (because I’m often up at odd hours) I look at my reader reviews (the good ones! Lol!)
*You’re very into crystals (as well as loads of other cool things). What crystals do you suggest for general well-being and/or to fight anxiety and stress?
Amethyst is great for dissipating negative energy, so that’s good for a lot of purposes. I have various ones around my house—one right in front of my computer. I have a fluorite wand (so pretty with purple, teal and white bands) by my writing space for creativity. I have a big rose quartz sphere for a loving, romance energy. I mention these because they’re all part of my well-being as a writer! Also, I had an interesting find a few years ago—a sculpture of an eagle sitting on a branch done in jade. As soon as I brought that home, I was inspired with all kinds of creative ideas and energy. So much so that I had to put it away for a while! My son kept it in his room and was convinced it helped his grades! (He’s working on his second Masters degree right now!) I also like the idea of worry stones, which I’ve often seen in sodalite, but I don’t actually use one. (I did have one in my book His To Possess in White Lace Agate.)
*How can your fans help you out in your writing career?
I am so thankful to all my readers for buying my books! Without them, I would have no career! Beyond that, the best thing they can do is tell other people about my books and how much they enjoyed them. Doing reviews on the on-line bookstores is also extremely helpful!
Finally, what’s your current favorite…
TV Show: American Idol
Singer: Adam Lambert
Beverage: Hot chocolate
Find Opal on twitter and say hello!